politics

Japan to return ancient books to S Korea in early Dec

25 Comments

The Japanese government will return more than 1,200 volumes of ancient royal books to South Korea in early December, Yonhap News Agency reported in its online edition Wednesday.

The books include texts of royal protocols known as "Uigwe," from Korea's Joseon dynasty, which ruled from 1392 until the Japanese takeover. They were taken from Korea during Japan's colonial rule from 1910 to 1945 and are currently kept by the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo.

The return of the books, scheduled for Dec 8, is the result of a commitment made last year by former Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

In October, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited South Korea aimed at smoothing prickly relations, bringing with him a set of historic books seized by his country decades ago.

Noda returned five volumes of Korean royal archives. It has completed its required domestic legal process to return the rest of the books.

When Noda took office in late August, South Korea urged his government to "look squarely" at the past -- a reference to disputes that have lingered since World War II ended the era of harsh colonial rule.

Relations improved after Japan's tsunami disaster in March, when South Koreans offered aid and sympathy, but worsened this summer when a territorial row over islets in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) flared up again.

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25 Comments
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Japan returning its spoils of war could only have positive results.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Former Prime Minister Kan set such a high standard for other leaders around thw world to follow. I hope that Prime Minister Noda will have the same courage to sit down with the surviving South Korea comfort wives and reconcile and heal the wounds of the past.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The contents were photographed and saved in a compact disc already!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I'm glad to see that the books are being returned to South Korea, but I don't think that the current Japanese administration can be held accountable for the actions of individuals in the past. Horrific and terrible things occur in war, and only the victors are immune from condemnation. Everyone is guilty in war, but only the losers are punished.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Nice one for following through with their promise.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Only China is upset about Japan and South Korea having peaceful relations!! China only happy if Koreans and Japanese are angry at each other!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Still it is difficult to get the truth from war.

The old Taiwanese found the Japanese to be in general good colonizers. Go there and talk with them. All are very old now though.

I also knew a man that was in Nanking in China and said nothing out of regular war issues happened.

I found the same when talking with Koreans many years ago. So, what really is the truth one cannot tell.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Dec? Why are all the flights booked? Get it booked, because we are talking about books being Aaaah nevermind.

A government rep. can stand at the airport and ask travelers to each "Carry this book for a friend" and he will meet you in Korea. Japanese have need known to carry things for a "friend" on international aircraft. -1 -2 -3 - 4 going for the record!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What is the definition of 'looking squarely'?? When you looting valuables from others and return it as a bargaining chip for political purposes saying:'Hey,thats OK,you have got it back now and we were friends forever! So behaves!' With a so called alliances like this and you buy it was a terrible insulting to your ancestors and matyrs who died for your country's dignity! This is not true friendship, this is 'Theftship'! Yes, the thief I referred to is Japan's political motives over Koreans! Because only thieves love to steal and using those stolen valuables as concessions! People like Kan, Noda were honest thiefts, at least they admitted Japan thefting Korea's valuables if you comparing with the LDP never admitted those thefting!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"Currently kept by the Imperial household agency in Tokyo".......... Now the Japanese Royal family has admitted they 'stolen' those 1200 volumes of Korean books, since Meiji emperor and so on were all thieves!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

books include texts of royal protocols ..............................now all can learn some proper manners.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Now the Japanese Royal family has admitted they 'stolen' those 1200 volumes of Korean books, since Meiji emperor and so on were all thieves!

Actually Meiji emperor and so on were all descendants of Koreans...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Virtuoso, so what is your point? Japan is doing the decent thing for once. Perhaps the rest will follow and the dispute get settled. This is a good thing and not a bad thing.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Actually Meiji emperor and so on were all descendants of Koreans...

Why not take them too? they are all descendants of Dongmyeong, the holy father of the Koreans. Surely, the current generation of Japanese would be committing theft as just-a-guy would probably agree if they continue to enthrone individuals who bear that sacred Korean lineage as "Japanese kings".

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The books will be returned on Dec. 8 which is the anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, so let's hope this gesture will "give peace a chance!"

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

On a sincere note, the Koreans can be angry at the Japanese bureaucracy and politicians for making the whole repatriation process so agonizingly slow. They do this to any Japanese private individual who makes the effort to get anything done through the system. What's even more frustrating is the fact that these archives are just sitting somewhere in storage where they haven't seen the light of day. If it was such a cherished treasure that Japan doesn't want to give up so easily, it ought to have been on public display. Is Japan such a thieving douchebag that isn't able to appreciate the loot they stole? It certainly seems that way, regardless of whether or not the general Korean public themselves know its significance and the politicians are demanding them back for mainly the kicks. But hey, whoever appreciates their family heirlooms in the item itself? However, if your neighbor steals them you know you have a duty to get it back, or else you be damned by the spirits of your ancestors who probably acquired it out of whim while window shopping at some antique store.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The British Museum in London is full of stolen art.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kentaro75 presents a unique paradox in his/her sentences:

These were OUR books and properties. Only coward DPJ and Kan/Noda agree to return them to bully Koreas.

Obviously Kentaro75 is someone who fully believes in the "possession is nine-tenths of the law" axiom. If they truly WERE Japan's "books and properties" (sic), then how could they be RETURNED to South Korea? No, they are South Korea's books and South Korea's property that had been looted during the Japanese occupation. Japan is not being cowardly in returning them, they are being a responsible Asian neighbor.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well they sure took their sweet time in returning looted goods. I'm not sure that's a noble act, rather, they were just waiting to maximize the benefit from an act that should have happened years ago. Saying they had to go through some "domestic process" is just an excuse. They had some sort of chip that would make Japan look good and now they need it.

That they held on to them for so long is an example of Japan's selfish, childish behavior.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

These books were taken from the Korean peninsula. Japan should return some books to North Korea also.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Good on Japan for following through with this and hopefully improving relations. A step in the right direction.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm guessing SK finally waived the overdue fees.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

CrazyJoe, you did not see the soccer match the other day right?? Japan LOST to North Korea in Soccer over in Pyongyang, is this not enough?? Now you want Japan to also give these old back to the DPRK??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These books were taken from the Korean peninsula. Japan should return some books to North Korea also.

If North Korea had wanted the books, they should have first normalized relations with Japan. That's what South Korea did. Now North Korea can talk to South Korea about getting some of them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If North Korea had wanted the books, they should have first normalized relations with Japan. That's what South Korea did. Now North Korea can talk to South Korea about getting some of them.

Funny you mention that because the 1965 Normalization Treaty with SK included a separate agreement where Japan agreed to return some of the cultural artificats that were transferred to Japan during the annexation period. This particular item was not listed by the Korean government.

Many of these items were transferred legally or bought by individual collectors during the period since Korean peninsula was part of Japan. They weren't "looted" or "stolen" as some media claim. Korea is simply trying to increase their "historical" inventory which to them meant little to value to them during such transfer occurred.

Ever notice why many Korean Buddhist cultural items are in Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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